Special: Farewell to the Street Life
Help the Homeless Secure a Job
No one can believe that Kwat, who wears a decent outfit, was a street sleeper a year ago. “My life was at a low ebb on the street. I couldn’t imagine that I would have stood up again,” he said. Kwat had been owed wages by his employer and became homeless under financial pressure. In despair, he received assistance and training from The Salvation Army. Now as a chef, he tries his best to make life delicious again.
Among the five flavours of life, Kwat is very familiar with the sour, bitter and spicy tastes. Years ago, when he worked in the automotive waste industry, a sudden change of economic environment brought him into financial difficulty. He was forced to stay in a cargo container for six months. Later working in the decoration industry, he was unfortunately owed wages by the employer. Once again, he could not afford the rent and became homeless.
Suffering from the blow of career failure, Kwat hid himself in a little public park and slept on a stone table on cold nights. In the daytime, he found odd jobs to sustain life. He said, “I’ve seen people looking for food in rubbish bins.” But he did not want to live like that. “How to fill my stomach was a big question every day.” After a week, he finally decided to seek help from The Salvation Army Integrated Service for Street Sleepers. The Army arranged for Kwat to stay at The Salvation Army Yee On Hostel and later introduced him to the Green plus Work Safety Chef Training Scheme. However, he considered the catering industry as “a harsh environment, low payment and long working hours”. Instant noodles were the only thing he had cooked and using a knife was totally out of the question, so he doubted if he could get into the industry. But looking from the other side, he thought, he had nothing to lose, why not give it a shot?
New Job, New Future
After joining the scheme, Kwat received a series of training, including the usage of knife and electrical cooking appliances, and cooking techniques. “I became interested when I discovered that I could do it,” he said. More importantly, the management system and regulations of a kitchen left a positive impression on him. With a good performance interview, he was successfully hired by Trusty Congee King of Tai Hing Catering Group.
The smooth change of career increased Kwat’s self-confidence and courage to accept challenges. Since the restaurant is located near the hostel, the travelling fee was saved. Kwat managed to put aside a certain percentage of his salary with support from the Army’s saving system. Half a year later, he could afford a room on his own. One year later, he even attained first grade in the qualification certificate!
Life has become stable. Yet Kwat cannot forget The Salvation Army Yee On Hostel, so he often returns to visit the staff. Sometimes, he volunteers to distribute clothing to the homeless with the Army. He said some of them would not accept the Army’s support because of pride. Kwat sincerely hopes that the needy can overcome the psychological barrier so that they can all turn a new leaf like he did.
Give the Homeless a Chance
“Please do not belittle the homeless people,” said Ms Ko Hiu-yee, a social worker of The Salvation Army Integrated Service for Street Sleepers. “They are capable of and willing to contribute to the society, but society has to give them a chance.” Corporates may join hands with the Army to create jobs for them, while people in the community may volunteer to visit them to provide psychological support.
Corporates / Individuals Enquiry: 2710 8911/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Chef Training Scheme
The Green plus Work Safety Chef Training Scheme is organised by The Salvation Army and Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades Charitable Foundation Limited, and fully supported by HK Electric. Participants learn the usage of knife and cooking techniques, etc. After interviews, they may achieve apprenticeship in the participating companies. On-the-job training from senior staff and support from the Army’s social workers are also arranged. The scheme helps participants develop their career while catering companies can train more professionals, creating a win-win situation.